A design manifesto of space and materials.
The two-bedroom house is located in Deptford, South-East London, on a small site in an old pub yard, largely concealed from the street outside by an existing brick perimeter wall. The new building stands apart from these walls and thereby produces a series of narrow spaces. The enfilade rooms, high ceilings, and a framed view to a distant church make the home appear to be larger than it is. The surrounding brick walls screen the city beyond to create a private domain. The building frame of solid-timber panels was fabricated from spruce in a Swiss factory, driven to site in a container and erected in a week. The constructional logic of the building’s detailing marries an engineered European product and Central American joinery. Fibre-cement panels envelope the building exterior; their lightness and verticality both relate to and contrast with the weight and horizontality of the rough in-situ concrete base situated atop the existing slab.
The horizontality of the new building’s concrete plinth is an expressesion of the original slab. It is still visible in the residual space cum garden, and even in the previous building’s sliding door track was retained. Inside, the polished concrete floor represents the new slab. It also extends outdoors to form a terrace. Each room has the same palette of materials: washed timber walls and ceilings, concrete floors and bespoke joinery comprising hardwood windows, doors, and furniture. Glass is sandwiched between the exposed structural timber and the hardwood frame to form the fixed windows; the top and bottom frames are not visible, emphasising the vertical mullions. The internal hardwood doors and frames are face-fixed to structural softwood openings, reducing site work, accommodating site tolerances and visually expressing the relationship between primary structural timber and secondary fit-out timber. The bespoke furniture is set within recesses in the structural frame. The bed, chairs and a dining table, made from a single piece of solid hardwood, are all provided by Simplemente Madera; these elements unifiy the timber interior. The building’s energy requirements are low thanks to the high standard of air-tightness and insulation, the timber panels’ thermal mass, minimal glazing to the north, and plentiful daylight.